Breweries are helping kickstart redevelopment of Chula Vista's Third Avenue Village.
Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Co. has officially returned, adding to Chula Vista's rising status as a craft beer destination.
259 3rd Avenue, Chula Vista
Following an 18-month build-out, Punk cofounders John Marshall, Steve Garcia, and Kevin Lewis opened their new brewery and tasting room to the public the first Sunday of August.
The brand originally launched in late 2015, contract-brewing at the old Butcher's Brewing in Santee. But after only a few months in business, the trio signed a lease for their own property in Chula's Third Avenue Village and hit pause on beer production to ready the brewhouse.
"We only distributed for six months," says Garcia, noting that demand quickly exceeded the limited capacity of brewing part-time in someone else's brewhouse. "We realized that when we made the beer for Sprung that the demand was there for us [to grow]."
A collage decorates the wall of Thr3e Punk Ales' Chula Vista brewery and tasting room.
"Sprung" would be the band Sprung Monkey, and the beer Sprung 4 Life IPA, Thr3e Punk's first in a series of collaborations with well-known rock bands. Since Sprung 4 Life was first released almost two years ago, the practice has caught on, with notable band-brewery collaborations cropping up from Amplified Ale Works, Belching Beaver Brewery, and most recently AleSmith Brewing Company.
More band-related beers are in the works, but first the Punks turned their attention to the estimated $1.2 million investment in building their new brewery. While they'd originally hoped to open a year ago, a series of delays forced them to wait. Most recently, they were held up waiting for San Diego Gas & Electric to schedule a gas-line connection. Consequently, they powered their brewhouse with propane tanks to ready the five beers they opened with Sunday.
Two of those beers aren't ales, but lagers: a hoppy pilsner and a pale Mexican lager, reflecting an effort to attract South Bay beer-drinkers who might not have embraced more popular San Diego styles yet.
"We want to balance the board out," says Garcia. "People can come in and have those low ABV beers and enjoy themselves without going in heavy on a double IPA." With Mexican lagers surging in the U.S., Garcia hopes any local fan of that style will give Thr3e Punks versions a chance. "I don't want that guy having to go to 7-Eleven or a liquor store," he says. "Come try ours!"
Meanwhile, the siting of the brewery on Third Avenue seems to be encouraging further redevelopment, as a new restaurant concept, Temp, just announced plans to open in the village; as did the Balboa Grill, an established burger bar.
And if Thr3e Punks, and fellow Third Avenue brewer Chula Vista Brewery do well, other breweries may also follow. "I have a feeling that we are kind of a guinea pig for some of the breweries in the industry," says cofounder Marshall. "I know a couple of breweries that have told me directly, straight up: 'After a year, if it's successful for you guys, we're coming down!'"